Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Don't Let Domestic Terrorists Win

Terrorism: the sytematic use of terror as a means of coercion. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

This is a wall of shame:
  • Sarah Palin, the half governor with even less of a brain.
  • Newt Gingrich, consumate hypocrite, present day hatemonger.
  • Rush Limbaugh, drug addict and con man, populist worth 1/2 a billion dollars.
  • Glenn Beck.....too much to say.
  • Michael "Weiner" Savage, the self hating Jew who also hates gays, Muslims, immigrants, and so forth, ad infinitum.
  • Pamela Geller, rascist bigot blogger who personally supported genocidal war criminal Slobodan Milosevic.
  • Laura Ingraham, who, like Glenn Beck, supported Imam Rauf and Park51 before she was against it, [or rather, got the memo].
  • Rick Lazio, former Congressman, failed Senate candidate, who uses imagery from 9/11 in a cheap campaign ad where he calls Imam Rauf a terrorist sympathizer.
  • Carl Paladino, an icon of conservative thought who promises to use eminent domain to thwart First Amendment Rights.
  • Megyn Kelly, pretty face of Fox News, master of injecting commentary into what passes for journalism.
  • Liz Cheney, Sith Lord, with the special power of being able to lie through her teeth.
  • Mark Levin, a man of such small character it is astonishing he can hold so much hate.
Make no mistake: these folks, among others, are using their bully pulpit to frighten both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, to use the issue of building houses of prayer and worship as a wedge issue, to coerce Americans into changing their behavior and give up on their most sacred and central beliefs.
They are to be castigated and socially cast out. They are an afront to what American means. Do not let their poison coming from the lips of others go unanswered.

But let us not forget some heroes in this fight against the tyranny of the [m]asses:

Mike Bloomberg, Ron Paul, Elaine Brower: Real Americans.

These are just a few who have shown the courage and conviction to stand up for what is truly right: the feedom of all Americans to worship their religion, and the right of Americans to use their private property in any way they see fit, within the boundaries of the law, a law which applies equally to all.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Park51: The Front Line in the Fight for Real American Values

If you are reading this blog, you are aware of the made up controversy surrounding the construction of a Muslim cultural and community center, which includes a mosque, about 2 blocks north of the World Trade Center site, called Park51. This past weekend there was an anti-"mosque" protest and a counter rally in support of the cultural center.

Looking at some of the signs by those anti-mosque protesters filled me with a terrible resolve and yet great sadness. Allow me to disgust you:

"A Mosque at Ground Zero Spits on the Graves of 9/11 Victims Stand Up America"

"Sharia Sharia Sharia"

"Building a Mosque at Ground Zero is Like Building a Memorial to Hitler at Auschwitz"

"Stop Islam"

"No Mosque at a War Memorial"

I'll stop there, because I am nauseated this happened in my city.

This is a fake controversy, created by racial and religious bigots, picked up by Fox News, and now pushed to this point. I hate to remind such hatemongers like Pamela Geller, Glenn Beck, and the rest of the knuckle draggers so secure in their own self evident superiority in the eyes of some amorphous creator: this is the United States of America; if you hate the central creed of this great nation, then leave.

As for all those overly sensitive persons who think "it's too close," I have to ask: "Too close to what? Why?" I say to them: "Stop conflating one group of Muslims for another. Muslims are not fungible. There are many sects, just like in Christianity, and it is simpleminded to lump them altogether."

Islam, like Christianity, runs the gamut, from right to left, and high minded to low. A Catholic or Presbyterian would not want to be lumped together with the Westboro Baptist Church or the Christian Identity Movement. Yet that's what everyone against the Park51 project is doing to them, who are members of the peaceful, mystical Sufist sect. If you don't know what Sufism is, or why this is relevant, then look it up and learn something.

Now, to salute a truly great American, Elaine Brower, one of the founders of a group called the New York City Coalition to Stop Islamophobia. She was inspired by her thrice deployed Marine son to action when he said to her:

"Mommy, I thought we lived in America. I thought I fought for freedom. What's going on with these people?"
Ms. Brower is not Muslim. But she answers the clarion call of the central freedom of our nation, and is not cowed by the doomsayers or the inflamed emotions of event he truly righteously angry. But she sees through the fog of emotion and hatred to that which is the prize: the inexorable march forward of this nation toward freedom for all citizens.

It is always easier to go with the herd and pick on the unpopular kid. It is always more difficult to defend the downtrodden against the unthinking masses. These days it is American Muslims that are the class peon, and Elaine Brower is standing up to the bullies.

And make no mistake: those ignorant, dour faced, flag waving, angry sign holding, hate filled crowds are the bullies. Even if they think they are right.

The Park51 project has become, unwittingly, the front line in the fight for religious freedom and cultural acceptance in the United States. There is no compromise with hatred and ignorance. I implore Ms. Brower and the principals of the Park51 project to not back down. Don't let the bigotry of the masses frighten you. You have the power of the Constitution and the righteousness of the promise of this greatest of nations behind you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Faux News Exposes Itself: Fair and Balanced Is Finally Just a Slogan

It has been reported today that the parent company of Fox News, News Corp., has donated $1,000,000 to the Republican Governors' Association. Uh, okay.

I suppose the standard Fox set for itself, "Fair and Balanced," a standard it never actually tried to live up to, has finally been exposed to be nothing more than a slogan, mere puffery.

It means that no one - not Bill O'Reilly, nor Sean Hannity, nor Megan Kelly, nor the braintrust that anchors Fox and Friends - can in good faith claim that they are reporting the news without spin, or that any interview conducted is evenhanded.

I never believed Fox News was fair and/or balanced. But now, by the very actions of the parent News Corp., Fox News, they of mighty rating and poor journalism, has been publicly reduced to what they have always been: the mouthpiece of the right wing of the GOP.

It seems that some lyrics of one of my favorite bands applies here:

"Pat yourself on the back and give yourself a handshake, because everything is not yet lost."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dear Sharron Angle, About Those Second Amendment Remedies.....

Dear Sharron Angle,

You famously said the following in January:

"You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. And in fact Thomas Jefferson said it's good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years.

I hope that's not where we're going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out."

Now I will agree with you, in basic substance, that the Second Amendment is the final check on a real tyranny. I'm not sure that spending too much, bailing out AIG and the automakers and reforming healthcare really qualifies as a tyranny, but I digress.

It is also true, and I am sure you'll agree, that the right to marry whom you want is a fundamental right. Even the Supreme Court has said so, like in Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1968).

At present the case of Perry v. Schwarzennegger, wherein a Federal judge initially appointed by Ronald Reagan and confirmed under George H.W. Bush, Vaughn R. Walker, found that California's Proposition 8, outlawing gay marriage was unconstitutional, is likely heading to the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

Judge Walker found that Proposition 8, among other things, violated the due process clauses and equal protection clauses, and was based on stereotypes and prejudices which are out of date. It was an act of supreme courage in our balkanized times.

Sharron, it is obvious that once this case reaches the Supreme Court which way 8 of the judges will vote. We all know that the liberal block of Sotomayor, Breyer, Kagan, and Ginsburg will most likely vote to uphold Judge Vaughn's ruling, and that the activist conservatives of Alito, Scalia, Roberts the Umpire, and Thomas will do Constitutional gymnastics in order to find some lousy reason to reject it. Then there is the wild card of Justice Kennedy, and upon him ride the hopes and dreams of millions of Americans who only want to get married and be miserable like the rest of us - just kidding!

So let's say that Kennedy goes with his activist conservative pals, like he did on the abominable Citizens United v. FEC, wherein he wrote the opinion, and created out of whole cloth a corporate aristocracy from nothing. Let's say they overturn Judge Walker's decision, and reinstate that blessed example of a tyranny of the slimmest majorities, Proposition 8, and in so doing remove a fundamental right from approximately 10% of American citizens, and throw equal protection under the law under a bus, as well as a long line of cases, including Loving v. Virginia.

I think we can all agree that the gay population of the United States is probably not the most heavily armed demographic. I know very few gays who know what Mossy Oak [tm] is, much less own any. But I was wondering what you would think is the appropriate Second Amendment Remedy - your word, not mine - for a group of people that have most certainly lost a fundamental right by an actual tyranny of a majority, and to have that removal upheld by a bunch of unaccountable activist jurists sitting in their ivory tower, answerable to no one.

Anyway, get back to me when you can, but before Election day. I know a lot of people that would be interested in your answer, myself most of all.



Sunday, August 8, 2010

Change the Fourteenth Amendment? Step Away from the Stupid!

I have heard a lot these days about amending the Constitution, namely the Fourteenth Amendment. These calls have come, during the midterm election year, solely from the GOP, and in particular the Republican leadership: House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senators John Kyl and John McCain of Arizona, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to name just the highest ranking, Senator Lindsey Graham. Let me say it right now: this is not just a bad idea, it is a thinly veiled cynical strategy to invent a wedge issue.

The Fourteenth Amendment is probably, when taken as a whole, the single most important amendment to the Constitution. It is among the first civil rights legislation in American history, and almost certainly the most sweeping. It forced, for the first time, the states to abide by the Bill of Rights, which the states had been free to ignore before 1868. It was written with the express intent of creating American citizens from non-citizens, which in our present day includes the children of illegal immigrants.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Fourteenth Amendment, here's the complete text:
"Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article."
Conservatives have waved A LOT of signs and made A LOT of in the last two years about the Constitution. Yet there appears to be a lot of consternation on the right about what they actually like about the Constitution. Some have called for a repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment - you know, where WE THE PEOPLE actually vote for our national senators. Why does the hard right hate freedom?

Now we have them clamoring to change the Fourteenth Amendment because of that pesky first sentence of Section 1. Apparently, conservatives belief it is their birthright to deny the right of citizenship as a birthright, so long as they do not approve of the parentage of such people. It's not as if one can control where their parents are living when they are born.

There is an old libel at work here. That old libel is that of the "anchor baby," as slanderous as the once popular conservative mantra against public assistance known as Cadillac-driving welfare queens who have the babies just for the money, 'cause that's where all the money is. No one has ever met one of these welfare queens, just as no one ever met an anchor baby.

No one comes to to the United States of America to have babies. They come to the United States of America for the same reason every person after Columbus came here: to build a better life for themselves and their families. And as our Founding Documents make clear, the rights enjoyed by American citizens are not bestowed by any government, but are a natural result of our Creation. So who we to deny what both the Creator and our wise fathers saw fit to set down: that everyone born here is a citizen, owing fealty to our national creed of hard work and liberty, and owed equal protection under the law.

Now let's be clear about something: Congress cannot pass a law, and the President sign that law, which would in any way alter fundamentally how an Amendment to the Constitution operates. Therefore, any call for "looking into" or "holding hearings" on changing the Fourteenth Amendment is simply balderdash, a distraction from the very real failure of the GOP to have any agenda aside from "We're not the black guy in the White House" to run on in the midterms. That's about as plain as I can say it.

In case you didn't pay attention in your civics class, to amend the Constitution or an Amendment requires whatever changes or additions to be passed by supermajorities [66%] of each house of Congress, as well as then being ratified by three-quarters of the states, or 38. California, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Washington and Oregon, through either their Congressional representation or their state legislatures, are more than enough to prevent this from happening.

So why propose the impossible?

Furthermore, and not for nothing, but the natural born citizenship of the sitting President is still fodder for tabloids and right wing blogposts. Allegedly 1 in 4 Americans has a question about President Obama's place of birth. This mendacious narrative dovetails nicely with attacking the Democrats for not dealing with illegal immigration through changing of the citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This is doubly dishonest because the GOP has a recent history of saying "No" to everything, even to matters which they had either previously backed or proposed, and this includes immigration reform.

Finally, as with all the numbskull calls to either build a wall along the Mexican border, or find and deport all the illegal immigrants, no one takes the long view. Okay, let's amend the Constitution to prevent the children of illegal immigrants from being citizens. Great. Now where are they citizens of? What if mom is from Ecuador and dad from Guatemala? What happens to a now instantaneously created permanent underclass of stateless infants? And how does the government react to any of this without growing larger and more imposing? Will mothers now have to carry documentation of their child's citizenship every time they enroll in school, go to a doctor, or a hospital? Finally, who will pay for this, or more importantly, will this pay off for us?

The short answer is "no." No one thought any of this through beyond screwing over people with brown skins. Personally, I like creating new citizens - it increases the population, and therefore the tax base, so we can all continue to enjoy the the success of our nation.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Between the Bombs, and After

Yesterday marked the sixty-fifth anniversary of the day the Enola Gay dropped Little Boy onto the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The result was a miniature sun, a pillar of fire, and the immediate extinction of 80,000 people, with many tens of thousands of deaths to follow within the next year.

This Monday, August 9, will mark the sixty-fifth anniversary of the day that Bockscar dropped Fat Man onto Nagasaki, vaporizing anywhere from 40,000-75,000 additional people. As with Hiroshima, many tens of thousands more would die within the next year.

The Japanese Emperor, Hirohito, would give a radio address on August 15, 1945, stating Imperial Japan's intention to unconditionally surrender. What happened in the 9 days between the annihilation of Hiroshima and Hirohito's surrender?

There are some who have questioned the decision to drop the atom bombs on Japan, and some have sought to revise this history to reflect present day regret. I, being a student, albeit amateur, of the art of history, am always hesitant to revise it. Yes, there are times when the popular story told to 7th grade social study classes might give a certain spin or gloss over inconvenient facts. But at the university level I found that my study of history revealed many hard truths.

One of those truths is that the decision to use nuclear weapons against Imperial Japan was probably the right one. This is not to say that, since it was the correct decision, there is not a price to be paid. America still has not, in its national soul of souls, come to grips with that horrific Faustian bargain, and Japan's national character has been indelibly altered, for better and worse, because of it.

While it was, militarily and politically, the correct thing to do, that does not mean it was the moral one. If there is karma, or a price to be paid in final judgment, those chickens have not yet come home to roost. As for Imperial Japan, as terrible a price she paid in her defeat at the hands of the United States, it cannot be said that she did not have it coming. And when I say that I am not labeling Hiroshima and Nagasaki payback for Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was, taking the long view, a justifiable attack on a military target, with a limited [some 3,000] number of casualties, largely confined to military personnel. In other words, Pearl Harbor was no Nanking, no Korea, no Bataan. Pearl Harbor was, relatively speaking, small potatoes.

So about those 9 days - what happened? Well, at first Imperial Japan took Hiroshima on the chin. That's says something about the testicular fortitude of the Japanese people. After Nagasaki - three days later - it became clear to them that they were risking national suicide. Unfortunately, the idea of immolation for the sake of jingoistic pride was okay with several members of the Ministry of War, who then attempted a coup to prevent a surrender.

Known as the Kyujo Incident, the coup was attempted on August 14-15, and thankfully failed, otherwise there might have been up to three or four more cities turned into lakes of fire and the denizens reduced to photographic shadows. Failing that, the United States and her allies would have been forced to invade the Home Islands, and the human costs would have been even more terrible.

So, looking back at this now somber time in the first days of August, let us remember that there are times when the most terrible decision is sometimes the right one, but that may not allay the final judgment on all of our souls when the day of reckoning arrives.

It is also instructive to the point that revising history to tell the narrative that is either more expedient or palatable is the wrong path, and the powers that be in Texas and elsewhere should take heed. For failure to learn the lessons of history shall only doom their repetition.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Anti-Defamation League: Your Stupid is Showing

Between my seven month old twins and the complete idiocy of what passes for political discourse these days, I haven't written for over 5 months. However, the debate over whether a group of Muslims may open the Cordoba House - an Islamic community center including a mosque - two block north of the World Trade Center site has brought me back out of my cave.

And it wasn't the vacuous statements of Sarah Palin, nor the bald bigotry of others like Newt Gingrich, or the general insanity of Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity [hey, that rhymes!]. No, it was that the Anti-Defamation League has thrown in with the likes of them.

The ADL's self proclaimed mission statement is as follows:
"The immediate object of the League is to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people. Its ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens." See it at
However, with respect to the proposed Cordoba House, the ADL has decided that "feelings" trump reason, conscience, and law. (For example, see: Amendment 1 to the Constitution). The ADL's statement on the Cordoba House? Here it is:
"Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain --unnecessarily -- and that is not right."
Catch that? Reason, conscience and law matter not. Feelings matter most. Especially since we're talking about Muslims. Imagine the self righteous, apoplectic anger that would result if it were an American Muslim community fighting to prevent something like the building of a church, or a synagogue, a memorial to American soldiers, or one to September 11, or perhaps a memorial for the Holocaust. This is a disgusting display of anti-Muslim hate that is but thinly veiled. And I expect it from some, but not the ADL.

Instead of taking the high road - the hard road, the tough row to hoe - the ADL has gone for the cheap thrills of divisiveness and religious hate. The fact remains it is easy to pick on the unpopular kid. Just ask Gov. Jan Brewer, the perpetrator of the single most cowardly political act of 2010, until the ADL went all anti-Islam.

Now, having thrown in with cheap, slimy faith hustlers like Palin, Gingrich, Glenn Beck, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), and Carl Paladino, the ADL has defamed itself and everything it stands for, and done a great deal to undermine its great history of courage in the never ending struggle for civil rights and equal protection. Kudos.

It's the bigotry, stupid. You know, the stuff you said you were there to fight against.

Anti-Defamation League: you are dead to me.